We’ve all had that thought that we could use more time – more hours in the day to get through all of our tasks, to exercise, to get more sleep, to enjoy time with our family and friends. But since more hours in the day seem unlikely, time management tips and strategies can help you more effectively and efficiently use the hours to accomplish more of what you need to do – and want to do. Read on for professional organizer time management tips to help make your busy NYC days more productive.
How do you use your time? Keep a journal or diary (electronic or paper) for a week to track how you’re spending your time. Write down the start and end time for your tasks – getting ready for work in the morning, your commute, stopping for coffee, phone calls, meetings, shopping for groceries, etc. Knowing how much time each task really takes is can help you to better plan for each day. This is a really key tip for developing a more effective time management strategy. Look for ways to better utilize some of the minutes and hours in your day. Could you catch up on reading trade journals during your 45 minutes on the train? And then later spend those 45 minutes taking a walk or having lunch with a friend?
Plan your day. Take some time at the end of each day or first thing each morning – it can be as little as 10 minutes – to review and update your calendar and your to-do list. Be realistic about what you can accomplish by the end of the day and plan forward those things that are not priorities for the current day. Effective time management starts with accepting the reality behind this tip….a very limited number of priorities will be accomplished each day.
Schedule important tasks on your calendar. As a professional organizer will advise, any activity that is important to you and your NYC business or personal life should be scheduled on your calendar. Appointments and recurring activities such as classes, meetings and regular networking events are obvious calendar items. But if exercising four days a week is a priority for you, put it on your calendar and honor the scheduled time. If you want to have lunch with your child at school one day each week, schedule it so that it doesn’t get bumped by other events.
The type of calendar you use is a matter of personal preference, but it’s important to have one calendar with all of your events and priorities listed. Managing multiple calendars becomes a chore in itself and utilizes time you could spend elsewhere. Electronic calendars, such Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendar can synchronize between your computer and mobile device, allowing you to have an up-to-date view wherever you are. If a paper calendar works best for you, there are many options, including those with daily, weekly and monthly views. Be realistic about how many tasks you’re going to list for each day and select a calendar that will accommodate your schedule. Planner Pads are a great option for a weekly view of activities that you can organize into categories.
Plan for and manage interruptions. No matter how well you think you’ve scheduled your day, you’re going to have interruptions and distractions. Plan blocks of time into your day so that if you’re pulled away from what you’re doing, you can shift your schedule as you need to. For those tasks that require your undivided attention, establish a “do not disturb” signal to let co-workers and others know that you’re not available. Turn off your phone, email and Facebook so that you aren’t distracted by their chimes for attention.
Don’t procrastinate. Mark Twain wrote, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” Start your day with the most important task on your list, even if it’s a difficult one. Establish milestones toward accomplishing the task and just get started. Beginning each day with the most important tasks ensures that they get your attention before you can be distracted.
Take care of you. Recognize when you need a break. Often your concentration is helped by a few minutes of fresh air and a change of scenery. Establish taking care of yourself as a priority – sleep, nutritious food and exercise are vitally important in reducing stress and accomplishing the things you need and want to do every day. Reward yourself regularly for progress and achievement of your goals – celebrate your successes!